Photo Credit:Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography
AIC is getting ready to play Army West Point this Thursday and Saturday. If Eric Lang’s group can get a sweep and have some other results in their favor, than Head Coach Eric Lang’s Yellow Jackets could hoist their fourth straight Atlantic Hockey regular season title on the ice of Tate Rink, where Lang got tutelage from Brian Riley, for many years before Lang took over AIC’s program and built it to where it is now. One could say that without Riley mentoring Lang, AIC Hockey may not be in the spot it’s in.
Lang had this to say of Riley. The question was what stories do you have of Riley, but Lang spoke to the relationship of the men instead. He said “ I don’t have a Brian Riley story that’s worth sharing. I would say over the last 5 years we have probably spoke on the phone over (365×5 in that ball park)2000 times. I check in once a day and some days it’s multiple times.” Lang added of the team Riley coaches “Army in my opinion is the best coached team in our league. They play the most complete team game. They are impossible to pre scout because they have no glaring weakness. Every element of their game has amazing detail.”
As to his team, Lang talked about his staff’s role in day to day things, line changes and more, saying that he loves his group’s “resiliency and competitive nature. We have guys that all they are consumed with is “did we win or lose.” As to how Lang and his staff are managing things he said “The team is on auto pilot right now. We as a staff just have to make sure we stay out of the ways.”
One of Lang’s cornerstone quotes to describe AIC Hockey is this “the strength of the team is the team.” That is one of the common things in this group, as Lang said of what he enjoys about this group, “how much fun they are to be around. We have amazing personalities on this team. I look forward to seeing these guys everyday. The team buy in is extremely high. Whatever we put in front of them. They are all in. It’s the key to our team success.”
Lang did single out one rookie for his consistent play. Evan Stella has played a solid two way game on defense and earned the trust of the staff as a freshman which is tough to do, before you look at the large roster AIC has. Lang said “ Evan quite honestly probably has been our most consistent player start to finish this year. Which is remarkable for a freshman defenseman.”
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